Model Legal Processes to Support Clinical Intervention for Persons with Serious Mental Illnesses and Pathways to Care

Task Force and Task Force Member Activities

Model Legal Processes to Support Clinical Intervention for Persons with Serious Mental Illnesses and Pathways to Care: A Roadmap for Coordinating Criminal Justice, Mental Health Care, and Civil Court Systems to Meet the Needs of Individuals and Society The Task Force partnered with the Equitas Project and Mental Health Colorado on a three year project to identify model statutory involuntary civil treatment language, and to recommend policy guidance in the areas of emergency intervention standards and medication over objection. In addition to the civil law recommendations, the resource proposes a pathways approach to consideration of criminal cases involving individuals with mental health needs as well.

Fifteen Judge-Psychiatrist Teams Trained September 10-12, 2022  This train the trainer event was made possible due to work by the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, Council of State Governments Justice Center, and National Center for State Courts, who will be continuing to refine the training and TTT content for judges throughout the country to improve not only public safety, but also outcomes for individuals with behavioral health needs. The Judges and Psychiatrists Leadership Initiative is partnering with the National Judicial Task Force to Examine the State Courts’ Response to Mental Illnesses to both enhance the content of this training to address addiction and substance use, as well as dramatically expand the availability of this training by increasing the number of judges and psychiatrists equipped to provide the training across the country. Stay tuned for additional developments!

Research and Resources

New Guides on Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) for Treatment Court Professionals and Participants The MOUD guides, one for clinicians, one for team members, and one for participants, were created through a partnership between experts at NADCP and addiction medicine specialists with criminal justice expertise from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). They reflect up-to-date, evidence-based information to support optimal outcomes for justice-involved individuals living with opioid use disorder.

A Statewide Evaluation of Jail-Based Mental Health Interventions The present study evaluates eight mental health jail interventions (MHJIs) across Michigan that were developed to reduce jail populations through services including advocacy for early jail release, in-jail mental health treatment services, discharge planning and referral, and discharge planning follow-up. Findings show that MHJIs improved mental health treatment outcomes among participants but had limited impact on reducing recidivism.

Have American Jails Become the Inferior Replacement for Mental Hospitals? According to a new study by George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, and published in the medical journal BMC Health Services Research, there are 10 times as many people with mental illnesses in jails and prisons than in state psychiatric hospitals. In other words, we’ve substituted jails for treatment facilities. To learn this, the researchers looked at data from all 3,141 U.S. counties and singled out variables that could influence jail population per capita.

Morehouse School of Medicine Points to Cost of Mental Health Inequities A lack of investment in mental health has taken nearly 117,000 lives and cost $278 billion from 2016-2020, with underserved and underrepresented communities across the country experiencing the brunt of the effects, according to a report released Wednesday by the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine.

TAC Research Weekly: Underdiagnosed PTSD Among African American Individuals with Serious Mental Illness The findings of this study suggest that PTSD is underdiagnosed among African American individuals with serious mental illness. As a result, the authors suggest that current treatment for this population may fail to address PTSD and stunt treatment progression. As such, there is a need for more a routine assessment of PTSD and traumatic histories in African Americans with serious mental illness who receive community mental health services.

SJI Priority Investment Areas This compendium of current State Justice Institute initiatives includes Court Navigation and Support, Recovery and Mental Health Oriented System of Care Model, Presiding Judges on Leading Change, Opioids and Children in State Courts, and Fair Justice for Persons with Mental Illness, among others.

Identifying and Avoiding Overuse of Psychiatric Medication with Children in Foster Care Multiple studies have concluded that children involved in the child welfare or juvenile justice system, many of whom are victims of abuse and trauma, are prescribed psychiatric medication at a rate significantly higher than other populations of children. The NCJFCJ, in partnership with the American Bar Association’s Center for Children and the Law, invite you to join Dr. Irwin Martin, clinical professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine for a discussion on the use of psychotropic medications in foster care.

Addressing Burnout in the Behavioral Health Workforce through Organizational Strategies This webinar will highlight findings from SAMHSA’s guide titled, Addressing Burnout in the Behavioral Health Workforce through Organizational Strategies, which explores evidence-based, organization-level strategies and promising practices to address burnout within the behavioral health workforce.

The Cost of Mental Health Inequities From a loss of individual labor earnings and affordable care to an uptick in societal spending on incarceration, public disability programs, and more – the costs of unmet mental health needs continue to threaten the well-being of Americans, their families, workplaces, and communities. Paired with an increasingly siloed and expensive mental health system, the perfect storm has been created for those seeking treatment. What are the costs of mental health inequities today, and how might these costs grow if they go unaddressed? How can we alleviate the health and economic burdens of unmet mental health needs, and what type of investments are needed to make a difference and save lives? This webinar will explore those and other issues.

In the News

Vermont Judiciary creates commission on mental health and the courts In recognition of the impact that individuals with mental health issues have on Vermont’s courts and to respond to their needs, the Vermont Supreme Court established the Vermont Judiciary Commission on Mental Health and the Courts. Comprised of representatives from each of the three co-equal branches of Vermont state government including judges, legislators and executive agencies that assist people with serious mental illness, the Commission’s overarching purpose is “to advance the pursuit of equal justice under the law” while identifying advances in the justice system “that will positively impact the administration of justice where it intersects with mental health, evaluate solutions and recommend change,” the judiciary said in a news release.

CA Lawmakers Approve Mental Health Care Plan for Homeless California will establish a new court program to steer — even force — homeless people with severe mental disorders into treatment after lawmakers on Wednesday gave final approval to a proposal pitched in March by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. The Senate unanimously agreed to changes approved in the Assembly late Tuesday, despite objections from civil liberties advocates who fear it will be used to force unhoused residents into care they don't want. Newsom said in a statement that passage “means hope for thousands of Californians suffering from severe forms of mental illness who too often languish on our streets without the treatment they desperately need and deserve.”

Curbing People with Mental Health Away from Jail Behind the barbed wire of jails and prisons across the country people with mental illnesses are incarcerated. But behind the doors at this courthouse in Miami is a decades long effort to divert people with serious mental illnesses away from the criminal justice system. "We're not gonna let you down. Keep it up, keep taking it one day at a time," said Judge Javier Enriquez.

Joint Judiciary Committee continues efforts to transfer treatment courts to the Wyoming State Supreme Court Some hope handing over the substance abuse court program’s oversight to the judicial branch will make treatment courts more effective--since the Supreme Court is directly involved with these programs. Natrona County Circuit Judge Brian Christensen told the committee that it’s now more important than ever to have a robust and effective treatment court system. “Fentanyl is kicking our butts right now. We're dealing with another scourge beyond methamphetamine. And we either have to attack it and become proactive or sit back and let it take us over,” said Christensen. “And the more we can be proactive, the more it will save money in the long run.”

HHS Awards Nearly $700,000 to Establish an Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Behavioral Health Center of Excellence The AA and NHPI Behavioral Health Center of Excellence will promote culturally and linguistically appropriate behavioral health information and practices; establish a steering committee to identify emerging issues; and provide training, technical assistance, and consultation to practitioners, educators and community organizations. Training topics include addressing mental health impacts caused by unconscious bias and hate against AA and NHPI communities.

Fairfield judge leads national board addressing mental health issues Fairfield Municipal Court Judge Joyce Campbell has been a champion for more than two decades helping those who struggle with mental health issues. Now, after being elected in June as president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) board of directors, she is among the leading voices in determining how courts can address behavioral health issues.

Fulton County stuck with big mental health billSince December, Fulton County taxpayers have been billed a combined $282,338 for a court-ordered mental health restoration treatment for a Gloversville man deemed too mentally incapacitated to stand trial on manslaughter charges alleging he was responsible for the death of a 5-month-old child. the total cost of the mental health confinement could be close to $500,000 before the county’s obligation to pay for 12 months of such care is over, which would effectively wipe out the county’s entire contingency fund budget for 2022.


SAMHSA Advisory: Expanding Implementation of Mental Health Awareness Training in the Workplace This advisory focuses on assisting organizations and individuals in the selection and implementation of training programs for the workplace. The advisory highlights several evidence-based MHAT programs for specific settings and professions and provides guidance for selecting and implementing appropriate training courses.

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